Before I Fall
by Lauren Oliver

Harper Collins, 2010. ISBN 978-0-061-72680-4.
Reviewed by Julie Baum
Posted on 03/23/2010


Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver's debut young adult novel, is a haunting, powerful story about the last day of teenager Samantha Kingston's life. Repeatedly re-living the day of her death, Samantha is forced to look closely at her world and the choices that brought her to a car crash that ends her life. By examining her seemingly superficial friendships, her rise to popularity within vicious high school cliques and the relationships within her family, she begins to unravel the mystery of her repeated death, and begins to understand how to be a better person.

Oliver's novel will resonate with anyone who went to high school. The pack of mean girls that roamed the halls takes on a new perspective when the story is told from one of its own. The story takes a deeper look at characters that we might categorize as villains and gives them an honesty and realism that is more complicated than black and white.

I couldn't wait to finish the story and figure out how Samantha's tragic story would end. The ending was unexpected and had an intensity that left me thinking about the book for days after. This novel is a fresh take on the "popular girl" sagas that fill the bookshelves and makes for a powerful and original read.

Lauren Oliver is a full-time writer living in New York City. Before I Fall is her first novel and has made the New York Times Bestsellers list. Learn more about her on her website.

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